Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah has dramatically increased its missile and rocket arsenal embedded within civilian areas of southern Lebanon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, has revealed.
Ambassador Danon was speaking at a special UN Security Council session on the Middle East on Tuesday. He claimed that the hidden arsenal Hezbollah had amassed was larger than that of all European NATO allies combined.
In the summer of 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in Lebanon that killed about 160 Israelis, and nearly 1,200 Lebanese, including several hundred Hezbollah fighters. The two-front war lasted for more than a month, with Israeli air strikes targeting Hezbollah terrorists embedded in Lebanese neighbourhoods, and 4,000 Hezbollah missiles launched deep into Israel, killing 44 Israeli civilians.
Since the 2006 second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has vastly expanded the size and range of its rocket and missile arsenal, and are estimated to have 120,000 rockets and missiles according to Danon, including a number of long-range systems as well as systems with improved accuracy. It is also believed that Hezbollah have made improvements in its capabilities, including air defence and coastal defence, with systems acquired through or from Syria.
The Israeli ambassador added that “more missiles are hidden underground in 10,000 square kilometres [of Lebanon] than the above-ground 4 million square kilometres” of the NATO countries.
Ambassador Danon presented photographic evidence in support of his assertions, using aerial satellite imagery to illustrate how Hezbollah has positioned rocket launchers, ammunition and infantry positions within the village of Shaqra in southern Lebanon.
Ambassador Danon said: “The village of Shaqra has been turned into a Hezbollah stronghold with one out of three buildings used for terror activities, including rocket launchers and arms depots. Hezbollah has placed these positions next to schools and other public institutions putting innocent civilians in great danger”.
Hezbollah is guilty of “committing double war crimes” as “not only are they attacking Israeli civilians, but they are using Lebanese civilians as human shields to defend their terror activity”, Danon said. He asserted: “We demand the removal of Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon”.
Hezbollah is a radical Shi’a Islamist terror group based in Lebanon, proscribed by the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Arab League and Israel as a terrorist organisation. The EU proscribed Hezbollah’s military wing in 2013 after a UK-led effort.
Danon also criticised the role of Iran in the Middle East in supporting terrorism, calling it Hezbollah’s “lifeline”.
The IDF have improved their capabilities dramatically since 2006, including enhanced intelligence and strike firepower, ground manoeuvre capabilities by using more advanced and capable tanks, armoured personnel carriers and equipping key armoured units with the Trophy self-protection system. In addition to this, Israel have developed the Iron Dome system which did not exist in 2006, and has been successfully tested in recent conflicts with Hamas.